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Thursday, September 28, 2017

Bob Brown - Willoughby's Lament (1971 us, tremendous progressive jazzy folk country rock, 2016 issue)

In December 1971, Billboard magazine wrote, “Willoughby’s Lament conveys a quiet tenderness and charm.” With this album, D.C. singer-songwriter Bob Brown delved deeper into the jazz and classical-influenced folk sound established on The Wall I Built Myself, his 1970 debut. Willoughby’s Lament was chapter two for Brown, and the musician’s craftsmanship and experience lent the LP a spiritual energy that remains intact decades later.

One of the record’s most transcendent tracks is “In These Flames.” He wrote this powerful song in 20 minutes while fighting the flu, and folk legend Richie Havens covered it on his 1971 album The Great Blind Degree. Havens and Brown hit it off after a chance encounter in 1966. Havens signed Brown to his MGM label, Stormy Forest, and produced his first two albums.

Brown picked up the guitar at 14 and began playing in D.C. coffeehouses before graduating from high school. He put together his core ensemble—guitarist Orin Smith and multi-instrumentalist Joe Clark—while a freshman at the University of Maryland. That’s also where Brown met his muse, Pamela, and where he completed the compositions for The Wall I Built Myself.

After completing his debut, Brown added two new musicians to his band, violist Rusty Clark and drummer Rob Windsor. In the summer of 1970, when Brown started writing Willoughby’s Lament, he brought the band to a Baltimore club called the Classroom. The Baltimore venue, like D.C.’s esteemed Cellar Door, attracted its share of regulars and luminaries, among them rising star Emmylou Harris. Brown and Harris would go on to split a concert bill at George Washington University.

Iconic D.C. radio personality Don “Cerphe” Colwell conducted his first of many interviews with Brown for progressive rock station WHFS. “Usually, you’ve got musicians who can either write or sing or play or maybe two out of those three things. But Bob could do all three things really well. He was a great writer, great singer, and great player, and he was great onstage,” says Colwell. “Listeners found and gravitated toward him, loved his music like I did.” Colwell says he played The Wall I Built Myself on the air “quite a bit.”

As Brown worked on Willoughby’s Lament, his relationship with Pamela dissolved. The break-up inspired “Death in Dreams,” a stark lamentation influenced by Neil Young. Brown spent most of the writing process while on the road opening for Havens, who was riding high off his star-making performance at Woodstock. They traveled to college towns—Kansas City, Bloomington, Madison—and played for crowds as large as 10,000.

Brown’s biggest show with Havens took place in October 1971. Brown and his ensemble flew to London for a sold-out show at the iconic Royal Albert Hall. “It was the crowning jewel for opening acts,” says Brown.  The show was a break from the Willoughby’s Lament sessions recorded at RKO General Studios in New York because of Havens’ fascination with recording on 35-millimeter film.

Havens brought in peerless bassist Eddie Gomez, who was discovered by pianist Bill Evans and performed with jazz legends Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Herbie Hancock. Brown was blown away by Gomez’s intuitive musicianship. He synchronized with Joe Clark, Orin Smith, and Rusty Clark and added a new dimension to Brown’s music by progressing the alchemical, haunting interplay among band members.

Havens offered Brown the assistance of a handful of famous studio musicians, including renowned Grammy winning composer Jan Hammer. Brown turned down the offer. “I didn’t think anybody else could do what Joe and Orin could do,” Brown says.

Like The Wall I Built Myself, the intimacy of Willoughby’s Lament, combined with Brown’s soulful vocals, creates a mix of raw tenderness and power. This was a departure for Brown, who explored a new realm by focusing on the piano. This style expresses the influence of his pianist grandmother, who played classical music for him when he was a child. Brown also expanded his sound on the title track, a two-part suite featuring a string ensemble arranged by Jeff Kaufman.

Willoughby’s Lament fulfilled Brown’s two-album deal with Stormy Forest, and he parted ways with the label in 1972. Brown moved to New York and lived in the Chelsea Hotel as he continued to write and perform. He went on to record three more albums—two with renowned producer and engineer George Massenburg and one with Greenhouse and the Eagles’ Steuart Smith. None of these records saw the light of day, and Brown abandoned his career in the early 1980s.

Brown eventually found success in the hospitality industry. Today he’s a trainer, author, and keynote speaker, using his insights to help companies like Disney, Marriott, and Ritz-Carlton. Brown tours the world as a consultant, which is how he met his wife, Judith. As his second career took off, Brown’s music didn’t entirely disappear. His records have long been out of print and hard to locate, but in recent years fans have come out of the woodwork to find the LPs and the man who made them.

Tompkins Square has rescued The Wall I Built Myself and Willoughby’s Lament from oblivion with these official reissues. More than 40 years have passed, but the albums still hold the effervescent spark that made Brown’s work irresistible. The records carry the spirit of his close collaborators who have since passed—Joe Clark, Orin Smith, David Franks, and Richie Havens.

Together they brought the work of Bob Brown to life, and since then the world continues to seek out his special brand of magic. For producer and future collaborator Mark Greenhouse, Brown’s music remains unparalleled, and Willoughby’s Lament was life-changing. “It was a lovemaking event—the songs, the music, the sound, the composition and the instrumentation caressed me, entertained me, excited me, and steered me into a life of music,” says Greenhouse. “Each time I listened I heard something new, always discovering something unpredictable and unexpected.”
by Leor Galil

1. If I Live Alone - 3:24
2. Interlude - 2:12
3. Baby Child - 5:37
4. Of Breath And Skin - 2:15
5. Willoughby's Lament (Part I) - 1:46
6. In These Flames - 3:44
7. Kindly Leave My Heart - 2:51
8. Death In Dreams - 4:03
9. For Pamela - 4:15
10.Light Of Children Come - 6:17
11.Willoughby's Lament (Part II) - 1:16
All compositions by Bob Brown 

*Bob Brown - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Piano
*Richie Havens - Backing Vocals
*Aleta Greene - Backing Vocals
*Eddy Gomez - Bass
*Rob Windsor - Drums
*Eric Oxendine  - Electric Guitar
*Orin Smith - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
*Bill Keith  - Pedal Steel Guitar
*Rob Windsor  - Percussion
*Joe Clark - Piano, Percussion, Vibraphone
*Rusty Clark – Viola
*Lorna Beard - Violin

1970  Bob Brown - The Wall I Built Myself (2016 remaster)

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Marc Benno - Minnows (1971 us, splendid guitar swamp blues rock, 2016 SHM remaster)

Marc Benno has been giving blues, rock n roll, and pop music an unmistakable Texas flavor for years. A singer/songwriter who plays the guitar and piano, Benno is a strong force behind some of rock and blues greatest talents making them sound even better. The list of legends he’s worked with includes The Doors, Eric Clapton, Lightnin' Hopkins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bill Wyman, Georgie Fame, Rita Coolidge, Eddie Murphy, Leon Russell and many more!

In the 60's, after performing in Dallas with Steve Miller, Boz Scaggs, the Eagles, first known as Felicity and The Moving Sidewalks, aka ZZ Top, Benno headed to Los Angeles to further his career. That put him in the right place at the right time!

Marc Benno recorded a pair of albums with Leon Russell as a duo under the name The Asylum Choir. These recordings are considered rock classics by Billboard Magazine. Benno was then picked to play guitar on an album by the psychedelic rock greats The Doors. The sessions were for the classic L.A. Woman (1971), the group’s last LP before Jim Morrison’s death.

Benno recorded four albums for A&M Records in Hollywood in the 70’s. Eric Clapton played guitar on two tracks from Benno’s 1979 album Lost in Austin, recorded in London, produced by Glyn Johns who was famous for producing The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

He toured with Rita Coolidge as lead guitarist and band leader opening for The Byrds at Royal Albert Hall in London!

After two years serving as Lightnin' Hopkins bandleader and lead guitarist, Benno formed Marc Benno & The Nightcrawlers, opening shows across America for Humble Pie and The J. Geils Band. One of the Crawlers was a young guitarist named Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Benno’s career got an unexpected boost in 1985, when his song «Rock & Roll Me Again”, recorded by The System for the movie Beverly Hills Cop, won a Grammy for Best Composition for a Motion Picture Soundtrack!

Marc received serious airplay from Freeform radio during the early '70s. Enough, in fact, that A&M Records kept him for four records. David Anderle, around since the '60s Elektra days, and at the time well established, produced three of Benno's albums. Minnows was the best in many ways, it contained a handful of wonderfully introspective, well-crafted songs; "Speak Your Mind" and the stunning "Don't Let the Sun Go Down," were classics. Marc's vocals showed a certain vulnerability not heard on other releases. Personnel were picked from the A&M/Shelter/Oklahoma Mafia/Leon Russell stable, except for the interesting appearance by Clarence White.
by William Ashford 

1. Franny - 2:59
2. Put A Liitle Love In My Soul - 2:54
3. Stone Cottage - 4:49
4. Speak Your Mind - 4:56
5. Back Down Home - 4:42
6. Good Times - 2:46
7. Baby I Love You - 3:06
8. Baby I Like You - 6:35
9. Before I Go - 4:48
10.Don't Let The Sun Go Down - 2:57
All songs by Marc Benno

*Marc Benno - Guitar, Organ, Piano, Marxophone, Vocals
*Jesse Ed Davis - Guitar, Slide Guitar
*Gary Illingsworth - Organ, Piano
*Carl Radle - Bass
*Jerry Scheff - Bass
*Chuck Domanico - Acoustic Bass
*Jimmie Lee (Jim) Keltner - Drums, Percussion
*Nick De Caro - Accordion
*Jerry Mcgee - Guitar
*Clarence White - Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
*Bobby Womack - Guitar
*Rita Coolidge - Background Vocals
*Venetta Fields - Background Vocals
*Clydie King - Background Vocals

1970  Marc Benno - Marc Benno (2012 korean remaster)
1973  Marc Benno And The Nightcrawlers - Crawlin (with young Stevie Ray Vaughan, 2006 release) 
1968  The Asylum Choir - Look Inside (2007 remaster)
1971  Leon Russell And Marc Benno - Asylum Choir II (japan SHM 2016 remaster) 

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Jesse Ed Davis - Keep Me Comin' (1973 us, singular melt of electrified blues, Southern fried rocked up r'n'b, greasy funk, freaky soul jazz and country rock, Japan 2017)

Charismatic Jesse Ed Davis was truly one of the rare breed known as a “guitarist’s guitarist.” On session after session in the late 1960s and 1970s, he epitomized the concept of playing for the song, drawing deeply from country, blues, rock, and R&B influences without mimicking anyone. He recorded with three of the Beatles and blues giants John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Albert King. He appeared in the film Concert for Bangladesh and played sessions with Eric Clapton, Gene Clark, Neil Diamond, John Trudell, and many others. He released three solo albums on major labels. And yet despite these accomplishments, Jesse Ed Davis remains best known for his work on the early Taj Mahal albums and for being “the guy who inspired Duane Allman to play slide guitar.”

True, Jesse created the signature riff used by Duane for the Allman Brothers Band’s “Statesboro Blues,” as well as the bottleneck on Eric Clapton’s “Hello Old Friend.” But slide was just one facet of Davis’ widespread talent. He created many memorable hooks. Playing fingers-and-pick country on his trademark Telecaster, he could fire off multiple-string bends and double-stops as naturally as a Nashville cat. In blues settings, he made every note count, like a B.B. King or Mike Bloomfield. He delved into jazz. His uncanny feel for rock led to his becoming John Lennon’s guitarist of choice for the Rock ’n’ Roll album.

With his handsome features, long black hair, and moddish clothes, Davis cut a dashing figure onstage. He was one of very few Native Americans to achieve prominence in pop music, and today, almost three decades after his untimely death, he’s regarded as a hero by many young Native Americans.

Early in 1973, Jesse played guitar and sang backup on Bryan Ferry’s These Foolish Things, featuring many Roxy Music alumni, and joined a star-studded cast for Rod Taylor’s self-titled release on Asylum. He next played on Arlo Guthrie’s The Last of the Brooklyn Cowboys, which also featured Ry Cooder and Clarence White. He also released his third and final solo album, the self-produced Keep Me Comin’, which was devoid of guest stars. Instead, Davis relied on studio stalwarts – drummer Jim Keltner, bassist Bob Glaub, and keyboardist James Gordon. He co-composed four of the songs with John Angelo, calling his “Who Pulled the Plug” one of “the great Okie classics.”

Jesse Davis spent his final days living in Long Beach, California, where he sometimes counseled at the American Indian Free Clinic. On June 22, 1988, he was found dead in a laundry room in Venice, California, reportedly of a heroin overdose. His body was returned to Oklahoma for a traditional Comanche burial. In 1998, his first two solo albums were issued on CD by Warner/Japan.

In 2002, Jesse Ed Davis was inducted along with Dave Brubeck and Patti Page into the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. “Whether it was blues, country, or rock,” stated the official citation, “Davis’ tasteful guitar playing was featured on albums by such giants as Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, John Lennon, and John Lee Hooker, among others.” For a kid who used to imitate Elvis in front of a mirror, Jesse Ed Davis had truly come a long way.

1. Big Dipper - 1:41
2. She's A Pain (Jesse Davis, John Angelos) - 2:52
3. Where Am I Now (When I Need Me) (Jesse Davis, John Angelos) - 3:16
4. Natural Anthem - 5:37
5. Who Pulled The Plug? (John Angelos) - 5:02
6. Ching Ching China Boy (Jesse Davis, John Angelos) - 2:57
7. Bacon Fat (Andre Williams) - 4:32
8. No Diga Mas (James Gordon) - 0:44
9. 6:00 Bugalu - 6:01
10.Keep Me Comin' (Jesse Davis, John Angelos) - 4:06
All songs by Jesse Davis except where stated

*Jesse Ed Davis - Guitar, Vocals
*John Angelos - Harmonica, Vocals
*Gary Barone - Flugelhorn, Trumpet
*George Bohannon - Trombone
*Bobby Bruce - Fiddle, Violin
*Billy Davis - Vocals
*Oma Drake - Vocals
*Jacques Ellis - Trombone
*Felix "Flaco" Falcon - Percussion
*Bob Glaub - Bass
*James Gordon - Clavinet, Keyboards, Piano
*Howard E. Johnson - Baritone Sax
*Jerry Jumonville - Alto Sax
*Jim Keltner - Drums
*Chris ODell - Vocals
*Bill Plummer - Double Bass
*Russell Saunkeah - Vocals
*Clifford Scott - Tenor Sax
*John Smith - Tenor Sax
*Julie Tillman - Vocals
*Bobby Torres - Congas
*Carolyn Willis - Vocals

1970  Jesse Davis (japan edition)
1972  Ululu (2003 japan HDCD remaster)

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Magna Carta - In Concert (1971 uk, peerless folk silky rock, 2014 remaster)

One of the six Magna Carta albums that went gold in Europe, In Concert was recorded live in Amsterdam in 1971, and remains one of the most atmospheric concert recordings of its age. A wonderful venue (the Concertgebouw), an appreciative audience, and a genuinely intimate selection of songs result in performances that cannot even be compared to their studio counterparts.

They're not better, they're not worse, they're just delightfully different, spun with a spontaneity and warmth that truly place the listener stage center. "Airport Song" opens the proceedings, of course, but the band was preaching to the converted that night -- every song is received as a conquering hero, and the band responds with equal generosity. 

A playful "Banjo Man," a haunting "Seven O'Clock Hymn," an eerie "Ring of Stones" -- every track is a highlight, while the newly arrived Davey Johnstone, making his recorded debut with the band, shines so brightly that it's hard to believe he was still unknown at the time. 
by Dave Thompson

1. Introduction - 0:51
2. Airport Song - 3:39
3. Speech - 0:39
4. Time For The Leaving - 4:25
5. Speech - 0:26
6. The Boatman (Davey Johnstone) - 3:10
7. Speech - 1:07
8. Sea And Sand - 4:19
9. Speech - 0:39
10.Banjo (Traditional) - 4:36
11.Speech - 1:02
12.Old John Parker - 2:49
13.Speech - 0:47
14.Seven O´Clock Hyme Midwinter - 12:51
15.Speech - 0:41
16.Country Jam (Chris Simpson, Guy Stuart, Davey Johnstone) - 1:48
17.Speech - 0:21
18.Ring Of Stones - 5:42
All songs written by Chris Simpson except where indicated

Magna Carta
*Chris Simpson - Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
*Glen Stuart - Vocals, Glockenspiel, Harmonium
*Davey Johnstone - Acoustic, Electric Guitars, Mandoline, Sitar, Banjo, Vocals

1969  Magna Carta / Times Of Change
1969-2006  Tomorrow Never Comes-The Anthology (2007 double disc remaster)

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Rare Earth - Live In Chicago (1974 us, high energy classic rock with funky vibes, 2014 remaster)

In the early days before they became Rare Earth, two of this legendary band's founding members, Gil Bridges and Pete Rivera, were playing together around Detroit in a band called the Sunliners, a name they took from the car Gil drove at the time, a 1956 Ford Sunliner. They played top forty-style music including many popular Motown hits at their club dates, which led the band inevitably into its trademark, crossover musical terrain halfway between rock and R’nB. 

Not long after they changed their name to Rare Earth, their manager's friend convinced Barry Gordy's wife, Margaret, to see the band play live. She loved them, and Rare Earth would become the first band recruited by Motown for its fledgling rock music label that was so new it didn't have a name. Improbably, this groundbreaking imprint took the name of the first act it signed, Rare Earth Records.

Rare Earth had recorded the album Dreams/Answers for the Verve label in 1968 and that LP already featured several reinterpretations of soul and R’n’B songs blended with psychedelic rock, including the memorable harpsichordinfused mashup of two Supremes tunes, "Stop/Where Did Our Love Go," and an early version of their breakthrough single, "Get Ready." But when they recorded their first album for Motown their revised take on "Get Ready" had evolved into a solid, 21-minute rocking tour-de-force. The three-minute version of this song that gave the LP its title became a mega hit.

Ecology was their second release on Rare Earth Records and it featured another Temptations cover, "(i Know) I'm Losing You," which was also a hit, plus the driving, popular single, "Born to Wander." "I Just Want To Celebrate" was a highlight of their next album, One World, and it became the band's signature dosing number in concerts, as it is on the Live In Chicago album. A double LP Rare Earth In Concert was released in 1971, followed by Willie Remembers comprised of all band composed original songs. 

Then Rare Earth teamed up with the legendary Motown producer Norman Whitfield for the studio album Ma. Whitfield had produced the band's version of "(I Know) I'm Losing You" on Ecology and during their studio sessions he would constantly encourage the band to play on and on in ultra-long versions of the classic Motown songs they covered, stretching them out with the extended jams and improvisations that became Rare Earth's calling card. Ma included the song "Big John Is My Name" that is heard in the Live In Chicago set.

When Rare Earth decided to put out a second live album they recorded their concert at the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago, a hall where the band had previously performed many times. According to original member, saxophonist and vocalist, Gil Bridges, "We had many loyal fans in Chicago and our Arie Crown Theater shows always sold-out. We always enjoyed a good response from Chicago audiences" The night in 1974 when they recorded Live In Chicago is no exception - the crowd sounds ecstatic, even singing along on "I Just Want To Celebrate." But through personnel changes and a long stretch since Rare Earth had a strongselling album, Live In Chicago was never released - untii now!

Rare Earth continues to tour with two longtime members performing Gil Bridges and Ray Monette. The other members in the current lineup have been with the band for over 20 years. Today, in 2014 - just as 40 years ago in 1974 - there is nothing in the world like the elemental live sound of Rare Earth!
CD Liner-notes

1. Hey, Big Brother (Dino Fekaris, Nick Zesses) - 7:54
2. Born To Wander (Tom Baird) - 8:29
3. Big John Is My Name (Norman Whitfield) - 7:20
4. (I Know) I'm Losing You, Pt. 1 (Cornelius Grant, Edward Holland Jr., Norman Whitfield) - 7:53
5. (I Know) I'm Losing You, Pt. 2 (Cornelius Grant, Edward Holland Jr., Norman Whitfield) - 11:42
6. Get Ready (Smokey Robinson) - 14:37
7. I Just Want To Celebrate (Dino Fekaris, Nick Zesses) - 10:55

Rare Earth
*Pete Rivera - Drums, Lead Vocal, Percussion
*Mike Urso - Bass, Vocals
*Gil Bridges - Saxophone, Flute, Vocals
*Ray Monette - Guitars, Vocals
*Mark Olson - Keyboards, Vocals
*Ed Guzman - Conga, Percussion

1968  Dreams/Answers (2017 remaster)
1969-74  Fill Your Head (three cds box set, five studio albums plus outtakes and alternative versions)
1971  One World  (2015 audiophile remaster)

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Grinderswitch - Macon Tracks (1975 us, splendid southern boogie rock, 2009 edition)

The genesis of Grinderswitch occurred in 1972 when Allman Brothers crew member, Joe Dan Petty, decided to put together a band of his own. Word reached guitarists Dru Lombar and Larry Howard and along with drummer Rick Burnett, they relocated to a farm outside of Macon, GA and began writing and rehearsing the band into shape. They soon gained the attention of Capricorn head honcho Phil Walden and the following year they recorded their debut album, "Honest To Goodness."

Over the course of the next three years, the band would work virtually non-stop. Macon Tracks album came out in 1975, Grinderswitch were signed to legendary southern label Capricorn, Pickin’ The Blues is a stomping instrumental boogie and was used by the influential British DJ John Peel as theme music for his radio show.

Grinderswitch would soon face major challenges, and eventual collapse of Capricorn Records right around the corner. However, at the time of this recording, they were at their peak.

1. Mail Train Blues - 4:00
2. Put It All In Today - 4:10
3. Now I'm Lovin' You - 4:06
4. Happy Like Me - 3:23
5. The Best I Can - 2:55
6. Let The South Wind Blow - 4:10
7. Drifter - 4:13
8. Get It While It's Hot - 3:32
9. Pickin' The Blues (Lloyd Copas) - 5:01
All songs by Dru Lombar, Joe Dan Petty, Larry Howard, Rick Burnett except where stated

The Grinderswitch
*Dru Lombar - Guitar, Vocals
*Rick Burnett - Drums
*Larry Howard - Guitar, Vocals
*Joe Dan Petty - Bass, Vocals
*Charlie Daniels - Fiddle, Banjo
*Paul Hornsby - Piano, Organ, Clavinet

1974  Grinderswitch - Honest To Goodness
1977  Grinderswitch - Redwing (2010 edition)

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Seatrain - Watch (1973 us, wonderful blend of country folk blues jazz and classic rock, 2017 remaster)

Seatrain was an American roots fusion band based initially in Marin County, California (and later in Marblehead, Massachusetts) and was formed in 1969. They played a mixture of rock, country, blues, folk and jazz and had a highly distinctive sound not dissimilar to that of The Band, Little Feat, Grateful Dead and It's A Beautiful Day. Eclecticism was their calling card, and Seatrain notched up both hit singles and albums (two of them produced by Beatles producer George Martin) and garnered a cult following before call in it a day in 1973.

Seatrain's origin, however, lay in one of the most important American roots bands of the early 1960s - the Blues Project. Although calling themselves a blues band, they were not "pure blues" per se and while it was a pivotal aspect to their sound and approach, they didn't dwell on one specific type of blues music only. Unlike their contemporaries The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and the Jim Kweskin Blues Band (who delved into Chicago blues and ragtime respectively) they, like The Yardbirds, introduced a wider span of musical influences drawing on folk, classical, jazz and baroque strains to produce a music both exciting and unpredictable.

Drummer Roy Blumenfeld and flutist/bassist Andy Kulberg formed Sea Train in August 1968. They relocated to Marin County, CA, recruiting a new line up of vocalist/lyricist Jim Roberts, ex-Mystery Trend guitarist John Gregory, former Jim Kweskin Jug Band violinist Richard Greene and saxophonist Don Kretmar. Sea Train recorded their first album in 1968, Planned Obsolescence, however, it was issued under the Blues Project name for contractual obligations. guitarist Bill Lussenden and Country Joe and The Fish keyboardist David Cohen to the trio of Kalb, Blumenfeld and Kretmer. The original Blues Project would reform in 1973 for a concert in Central Park New York but this was some time later

In September 1971, Seatrain toured Great Britain for the first time, performing as a support act for Traffic. They also recorded a TV special in Copenhagen, Denmark which has recently surfaced on YouTube and features them playing material from Seatrain and Marblehead Messenger and displays their improvisational prowess, especially those of Andy Kulberg and Richard Greene. However, Greene and Peter Rowan would depart Seatrain in 1972 and resurface in Muleskinner, while Jim Roberts and Larry Atamanuik joined the backing band of Emmylou Harris (Atamanuik would later tour and record with Alison Krauss and Union Station). Andy Kulberg and Lloyd Baskin replaced these departing members with guitarist Peter Walsh, keyboardist Bill Elliot and drummer Julio Coronado, but only released one more album, 1973's Watch.

Jim Roberts would return to supply lyrics and vocals for Seatrain. Watch is the fourth and final album by Seatrain, recorded in 1973. It is marked with a departure from the electric violin which featured so much on Seatrain (and to a lesser extent on Marblehead Messenger), and incorporated the use of more session musicians on instruments like vibraphone, cello, accordion, tuba and oboe. The guest list of supporting musicians was impressive, featuring Bill Keith on banjo and Paul Preston on guitar (both well-known folk session players), rock and roll revivalists Sha Na Na on vocals, along with a string section, flute, tuba and oboe, and producer Bueli Neidlinger playing bass. It was their first and last album for Warner Bros. Record with whom they signed after leaving Capitol Records. In a brief retrospective review, All Music called Watch "A strange, but intriguing release." The material included a revised take on Al Kooper's 'Flute Thing' (originally performed by Andy Kulberg as a member of the Blues Project on their second album Projections) and Bob Dylan's 'Watching The River Flow'. 

These tracks were added to with several new compositions, kicking off with the up-tempo 'Pack Of Fools' by Kulberg and Jim Roberts. Lloyd Baskin wrote 'Bloodshot Eyes' and 'We Are Your Children Too', while Kulberg and Roberts also contributed 'North Coast' and 'Freedom Is The Reason'. Richard Greene co-wrote 'Abbeville Fair' with Kulberg, and Kulberg's 'Scratch', a simple acoustic folk story, completed the band's input. The musical span included country, rock, folk, gospel and blues styles as in previous Seatrain recordings, with Peter Walsh's strident guitar style dominating the proceedings and replacing Peter Rowan in the guitar/vocal chair. This time Seatrain also became susceptible to mid-1970s hip musical trends, adding in funky passages and 'Shaft'-like guitar. However, this diversity is not necessarily a bad thing, and while it is a product of its time. Watch is still distinctive and sound worthy enough to bear a Seatrain moniker although minus two of its major previous practitioners.

Seatrain broke up shortly after the release of Watch and this coincided with Andy Kulberg re-joining the Blues Project, who had reformed in 1971. The Original Blues Project Reunion in Central Park featured Al Kooper (but not Tommy Flanders) and the concert was released as a live double album that found them recapturing much of their early energy and innovation. There was also a 1997 double album compilation, The Blues Project Anthology, which was the last known recording of the Blues Project (bar a more recent issue of recordings cut at The Matrix in San Francisco in 1966). Since then, the group's activity has been confined to a few sporadic reunions such as when the Blues Project played a fundraising concert at Valley Stream Central High School in New York, promoted by Bruce Blakeman with the proceeds going to the Youth Council and the US Olympic Committee.

In the period between 2001 and 2007, Roy Blumenfeld drummed in the Barry Melton Band. Steve Katz, in the meantime, formed American Flier with Eric Kaz, Craig Fuller and Doug Yule, recording two albums for UA Records: American Flier (1976) and Spirit Of A Woman (1977). He also produced three albums for Irish Celtic rock band Horslips (The Man Who Built America (1978), Short Stories Tall Tales (1979) and The Belfast Gigs from 1980), the Lou Reed albums Rock n Roll Animal and Sally Can't Dance, and the Elliott Murphy album Night Lights. Becoming interested in Celtic music he worked in management for Green Linnet Records in the early 1990s. Al Kooper had a successful solo career recording for CBS and also producing Lynyrd Skinner's debut album Pronounced 'L h-'nerd 'Skin-'nerdanA also wrote his autobiography, Backstage Passes And Backstabbing Bastards, in 1998. Seatrain became embossed in legend after their 1973 dissolution, but their individual albums still stand up. With Andy Kulberg's return to the Blues Project, both their story and that of Seatrain retain an internal connection that crosses decades and combined musical ideals in both bands' eclectic mixes of rock, folk, blues and jazz, the results of which fusions were and remain highly original and under-appreciated.

The story of Seatrain is that of one of the most accomplished and intriguing rural rock bands to emerge from America. It's a story littered with creative opportunity used and built upon, its quality and versatility subject to the swings and roundabouts of commercial acceptance and popularity. Seatrain's albums are still tantamount to a golden period of American music in all its post-psychedelic diversity and difference. Watch, the final chapter in the Seatrain story, is no idle bookend; it's as diverse, intricate and innovative as its predecessors.
by John O'Regan, October 2016

1. Pack Of Fools (Andy Kulberg, Jim Roberts) - 4:36
2. Freedom Is The Reason (Andy Kulberg, Jim Roberts) - 4:15
3. Bloodshot Eyes (Lloyd Baskin) - 3:01
4. We Are Your Children Too (Lloyd Baskin) - 3:42
5. Abbeville Fair (Andy Kulberg, Richard Greene) - 4:54
6. North Coast (Andy Kulberg, Jim Roberts) - 4:26
7. Scratch (Andy Kulberg) - 3:45
8. Watching The River Flow (Bob Dylan) - 3:23
9. Flute Train (Al Kooper) - 7:53

The Seatrain
*Bill Elliott - Keyboards, Accordion, Arp
*Andy Kulberg - Bass, Flute, Vocals
*Julio Coronado - Drums
*Peter Walsh -, Guitar, Bass, Vocals
*Lloyd Baskin - Keyboards , Clavinet, Vocals
*Jim Roberts - Lyrics, Vibes, Ideas
Assisting Musicians
*Sandra Lee - Vocals;
*Paul Prestopino - Dobro, Acoustic Guitar
*Bob Stuart - Tuba
*Bill Keith - Banjo
*Paul Shure - Violin
*Bonnie Douglas - Violin
*Myra Kestenbaum - Vioia
*Doug Davies - Cellο
*Buell Neidlinger - Contrabass
*Jill Shires - Flute
*Allan Vogel - Oboe
*Wayne Daley - La La
*Fredric Myrow - String Arrangements

1969  Sea Train - SeaTrain 
1970-71  Seatrain / Marblehead Messenger

Relatd Acts
The Blues Project
1966  Live At The Cafe Au Go Go
1966  Projections
1967  Live At Town Hall
1968  Planned Obsolescence
1973  Reunion in Central Park

1972  Rowan Brothers - Rowan Brothers
1975  Rowans - The Rowans
1976-77  The Rowans - Sibling Rivalry / Jubilation

1968  Earth Opera - Earth Opera
1969  Earth Opera - The Great American Eagle Tragedy

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Long John Baldry - Good To Be Alive (1973 uk, magnificent blues soulful classic rock, 2012 issue)

Long John Baldry was born on January 12, 1941, as Hitler's Blitzkrieg terrorized his hometown of London. In hindsight, being born in the blitz may have been nature's way of preparing young Baldry for the volatile roLlercoaster of a life and career in music. A commanding presence on stage, the six foot seven, white, gay, Englishman deftly switched between affected, Noel Coward-like stage banter to a singing voice not unlike a Mississippi gravel road.

Could there be a more unlikely candidate for the title: "Father of the British Blues movement"? Baldry was already legendary for his sets with Cyril Davies at London's Eel Pie Island when he discovered young Rod Stewart wailing on a harmonica at Twickenham Rail Station. Later, alter shifting to pop with the chart-topping UK hit, "Let The Heartaches Begin", in 1967, he acquired Bluesology as his touring band, impressing their keyboardist Reginald Dwight enough to adopt stage name to Elton John, in tribute. But Baldry s pop success had alienated his original fan base at a time when many of the bands he'd inspired — the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, The Yardbirds and Savoy Brown — were beginning to establish UK Blues rock in America.

To add insult to injury, Baldry's descent into irrelevance began just as his two star proteges, Rod and Elton, were becoming international superstars. He'd strayed from his roots and needed help if his career would have a second, or third, act. Rod and Elton, feeling a debt of gratitude, agreed to not only help their mentor come back in the UK, but to introduce him to the USA in style.

The plan was to reestablish Long John Baldry as a rocking bluesman with a trilogy of return-to-roots albums. The first of these, ItAin'tEasy (1971), featured one side produced by Elton and the other produced by Rod. It Ain't Ecuty fulfilled its mission, and Stewart's manager Billy Gaff (through his own label, CM Records), arranged a deal with Warner Bros securing a major US release on Warner Bros, garnering him US FM radio airplay and his first US tours. But alter Elton & Rod teamed up again for the followup, Everything Stopj For Tea (1972), Warner Bros began to see diminishing returns and did not pursue another.

Since Elton and Rod were by now far too busy, Gaff entrusted his house producer, Jimmy Horowitz who had executive produced the Warners albums, and who had replaced Elton in Bluesology, for the third try, Good To Be Alive. Horowitz recalls the sessions at IBC Studios in London. "We had good musicians," says Horowitz, "and everybody plaved well. They were actually some of the most comfortable, and fun, sessions we ever did. Baldry concurred in a later interview with Steve Peacock; "We took it at a much easier pace than the ones 1 did with Rod and Elton, where it was bash, bash, bash for a couple of weeks, simply because they didn't have much time to spare."

Horowitz brought back his own wife, singer Lesley Duncan, and guitarist Sam Mitchell, and adding powerhouse singer Liza Strike was brought in as a powerful foil for Baldry on the Gram Parsons song, "She." In addition to two rare songs by Baldry himself, "Aiaggie Bell", and "Song For Martin Luther King", the singer and Horowitz handpicked songs like Zoot Money and Colin Allen's "Good To Be Alive", Bo Diddley's "Let Me Pass" and Rod Stewart's "Gasoline Alley". "I remember Roddy turning up one night when we were recording the backing vocals to 'Gasoline Alley'," says Horowitz, "and he was fucking blown away!" Horowitz owes much of the "communal feel" of the sessions to the fact that both he and Baldry lived quite close to IBC studios, in Muswell Hill, and notes that the album's original cover photograph, featuring the singer at home with his pet goat, summed it up perfectly. "We used to call the album 'Goat To Be Alive'" laughs Horowitz, adding that the convivial atmosphere in the studio was occasionally broken by the singer's unpredictable mood swings. Depression had returned, in private at least, if not audible on the joyous album he was making.

GM Records issued Good To Be Alive in the UK only, in 1973. Despite some initial buzz for the single "She", the record, as strong as it was, failed to close the circle that the first two blues comeback albums had begun. It would be two years before Gaff arranged for an American release, via Neil Bogart's Casablanca label, but the moment had passed. After another album, Welcome To Club Casablanca, in 1976, Baldry's career stalled, heralding the start of another period of depression for the singer that wouldn't abate until his emigration to Canada where his first album for Capitol, Baldry’s Out, was a minor hit in 1979.

But Baldry archivist Jeff Edmunds believes that, had Warner Bros issued Good To Be Alice in 1973 as planned, it might have cemented his reputation in the United States. "John often said it was his favourite," says Edmunds, "because it was really the first album where he'd truly merged his folk, blues and roots-rock sides. It would be nice if it were someday recognized for its greatness."
by Paul Myers

1. Good To Be Alive (Zoot Money, Colin Allen) - 4:05
2. Let Me Pass (Bo Diddley) - 3:19
3. Rake and Ram Bling Boy (Traditional Arr. John Baldry) - 3:27
4. High And Low (Geoff Thomas) - 3:43
5. Gasoline Alley (Rod Stewart, Ron Wood) - 3:39
6. I Wish I Was A Rock (Derroll Adams) - 1:19
7. Up In The Trees (Neil Shepherd) - 2:51
8. Brand New Day (Al Kooper) - 3:18
9. Song For Martin Luther King (John Baldry) - 4:15
10.Maggie Bell (John Baldry) - 3:06
11.Let's Go (Chaz Jankel) - 2:39
12.She (Gram Parsons, Chris Ethridge) - 4:39

*John Baldry - Vocals, 12 String Guitar
*David Ball - Lead Guitar
*Sam Mitchell - Slide Guitar, Dobro
*Dennis Ball - Bass Guitar
*Terry Cox - Drums
*Tony Newman - Drums
*Mike French - Fiddle
*John Field - Fiddle, Banjo, Mandolin
*Pete Stanley - Banjo
*Jimmy Horowitz - Keyboards
*Chris Hughes - Tenor Sax
*Andy Brown - Acoustic Guitar
*Bob Cohen - Lead Guitar
*Sam Mitchell - Slide Guitar
*Jimmy Horowitz - Piano
*John Mealing - Organ
*Mike Driscoll - Drums
*Andy Bown - Bass
*Lesley Duncan - Vocals
*Lisa Strike - Vocals
*Suzy Glover - Vocals
*Kay Garner - Vocals
*Neil Shepherd - Vocals

1971  John Baldry - It Ain't Easy (2005 bonus tracks remaster)
1972  John Baldry - Everything Stops For Tea (2005 extra tracks remaster)

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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Morka - There Was A Time... (1971-74 greece, marvelous folk psych with acid drops, 2006 expanded Vinyl limited edition)

During the difficult years of the dictatorship in Greece (1967-1974), a band was formed which was the origin of Morka. This group, founded in late 1970 by John Jungemann and Dorian Kokas, was called Stone Deep. It set the trend of the basic characteristics of Morka, which was a four-part harmony band.

Stone Deep comprised a group of fellow-students at ACS (American Community School). They released a private-pressed single containing the mellow electric folk songs “Winter’s here” and “Judy“.

Dorian Kokas and Mike Moraitis formed Morka after the other members of Stone Deep returned to their homes in the USA. The name MORKA comes from MORaitis-KokAs and the duet continued the tradition of melody and harmonies, adding more psychedelic tinges.

In late-1971, Polydor released a 33 rpm EP containing both the Stone Deep tracks as well as two new duet’s songs : “I see” and “She shouts“. For these specific tracks german drummer Reiner Rathe participated as a session musician. All four tracks appeared under the Morka moniker.

That same year, after the departure of Moraitis, Kokas kept the Morka name alive with the participation of Michalis Orphanides, George Tambre, Antonis Bravos, Paul Papadeas and Pamela Leake. With this line up was that Morka became recognized by the public and took a turn in a more professional innovative direction. Many appearances followed in the clubs of Athens and endless gigs with other important bands of the greek underground scene.

In 1972, the single “Giati? (=Why?) / And so she flies“, also released by Polydor. The first track was the lone attempt by the American, Canadian and English members to sing in Greek.

In the first weeks of 1973, Morka recorded a demo-tape distinctively more mature, still emphasizing the importance of their mellow psychedelic folk roots but in a more progressive music style. No doubt, Morka was ahead of its time.

Shortly after this recording, the band broke-up, following the fate of the Greek rock bands of that era. The material of the demo-tape had never been released to this day.

In 1986, there was an ephemeral reformation of Morka with the basic line up of founder member Kokas and Orphanides and Leake. They recorded one more demo tape and afterwards the final split came.

2006 and Anazitisi Records, officially released all the recordings of Morka in a limited, to 400 copies, vinyl album entitled “There was a time…”.

1. Fair Lady Of 1860 - 6:04
2. Fourteen Young Children - 2:36  
3. I See (Dorian Kokas, Mike Moraitis) - 2:17  
4. And So She Flies - 2:03  
5. Squeezing Pimples (Paul Papadeas) - 1:14
6. Winter's Here (Dorian Kokas, John Jungemann) - 3:17
7. Disassociation - 1:05
8. Judy (Dorian Kokas, John Jungemann) - 3:51
9. Avenue Winter - 5:28
10.She Shouts (Dorian Kokas, Mike Moraitis) - 2:09
11.Ann - 1:44
12.Looking For The Past - 2:08
13.Giati? (Why?) - 2:18
14.Just Like Ann - 4:14
All compositions by Dorian Kokas except where stated.
Tracks 6 and 8 as the Stone Deep

*Dorian Kokas - Vocals, Guitar, Piano
*John Jungemann - Vocals, Guitar
*Bill Harrell - Vocals, Guitar
*Kirk Esco - Flute
*Chris Olsen - Vocals
*Randa Salameh - Vocals
*Mike Moraitis - Vocals, Organ
*Reiner Rathe - Drums
*Michalis Orphanidis - Drums, Percussion, Guitar, Keyboards
*George "Tambre" Tambakopoulos - Vocals
*Leigh Sioris - Bass
*Kostas Anadiotis - Keyboards
*Antonis Bravos - Bass
*Paul Papadeas - Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica, Bass
*Pamela Leake - Vocals, Effects
*Antonis Manolatos - Bass

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Various Artists - Searching For Love (1964-68 us, awesome garage beat, Vinyl issue)

This is another rare compilation also released by the Greek label Action in 1999.

Tidal Wave was a US garage beat with Motown soul influence, they release few singles between 1968-1970, no connection with other bands called Tidal Wave. 

The Avengers came from Philadelphia and released a couple of singles round 1966-68.

From Miami Florida The American Beetles started as the R-Dells recorded many tracks but non made a dent in national market. During a Miami club perfomance as the prank the boys combed their hair down and jokingly christened themselves as The American Beetles.

King Charles And The Counts were from Pocatello, Idaho."King Charles" was in fact Charlie Bieker, who also played with Easy Chair, member and songwriter was Steve Eaton whose songs have earned gold and platinum records for The Carpenters and Art Garfunkel. His songs have also been recorded by many other artists, including Glen Campbell, The Righteous Brothers, Ann Murray, and Lee Greenwood. Steve has received Emmy nominations for his original music written for PBS and has written music for the Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife Federation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Some consider his song Idaho I Love You to be the true state song of Idaho.

The Birdwatchers were a garage rock pop band active in the 1960s in the Miami area. The band dabbled with an Everly Brothers sound in their early career (1964), even releasing a version of "Wake Up Little Susie" on Tara, a local Florida label. During 1966-67, the band released 5 garage-pop 45s on the Mala and Laurie labels, in addition to local releases on the Tara, Marlin and Scott labels. Most of these featured the vocals of Sammy Hall. Depite national TV exposure on teen shows such as Where The Action Is, the most the band ever made it on the charts was #125 on Billboard's Bubbling Under Charts in September 1966 with "I'm Gonna Love you Anyway." As evidence of their local popularity another of their records ("Girl I Got News for You") made Billboard's Regional Breakout Charts for Miami peaking at #3 locally in April 1966. The band also appeared in the 1967 film, Wild Rebels - a local Miami, Fla., production.

Malcolm Hayes, Tommy Williams and Tommy Murphy joined a band called "D & The Dominoes" while still in high school in Texas City, TX.  That band soon became the "Countdown 5" joined by Steve Long and John Balzer.  The "5" was a 60's rock and roll show band that produced two Billboard Top 100 hits, "Uncle Kirby" and "Shaka Na Na".  The 5's home base was the the beach in Galveston, Tx, as the house band for the legendary Bamboo Hut and later the Grass Menagerie beach clubs that were The summer destinations for college kids from all over the U. S.  Because of the success of their records the 5 also toured throughout the Southeastern U. S. doing college shows and opening concerts for the super star acts of the era such as the Dave Clark 5, Paul Revere & the Raiders, the Grass Roots, Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs (Wolly Bully), B. J. Thomas, the Fifth Dimension, and others.

Del-Rays from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, members including Jimmy Ray Hunter (vocals), Jimmy Johnson (guitar), Roger Hawkins, Bill Scott (keyboards), Bill Cofield (saxophone), Larry York (bass), John Daniels (drums), Norbert Putnam.

Before joing the big success with The Guess Who, Burton Cummings, was fronting his own Winnipeg sensations The Deverons, who'd also been making huge strides releasing a handful of singles of their own. 

The Skunks from New Jersey, but they sounded English, and so were chosen to accompany the miniskirted dancers at Swinging London fashion queen Mary Quant’s Youthquake events in US department stores in 1965. The band members had black hair with a white stripe dyed down the middle. Everyone who bought an English mod design from the Puritan Fashion Corporation was given a free copy of The Skunks’ single Youth Quake.

Artists - Tracks
1. The Tidal Wave - Searching for Love (Elliot Chiprut) - 2:12
2. The Avengers - No Wonder (The Avengers) - 3:02
3. The American Beetles - Hey, Hey Girl (Bob Yorey) - 1:51
4. King Charles And The Counts - It's True It's You (Steve Eaton) - 2:45
5. The Birdwatchers - Girl I Got News for You (Brad Shapiro, Robert Pucetti) - 2:29
6. The Avengers - Crying All Alone  (The Avengers) - 1:46
7. The "You Know Who" Group - Playboy (Robert Esposito) - 2:50
8. The Countdown 5 - Money Man (Malcolm Hayes) - 2:12
9. The Badd Boys - Never Going Back to Georgia (Arr. by Dick Monda) - 2:12
10.The Del-Rays - Like I Do (Larry Hamby, Jimmy Johnson) - 1:59
11.The Deverons - Blue Is the Night (Al Esposito) - 3:08
12.The Skunks - A Girl Like You (B. Leigh, A. Dee) - 2:04
13.The Coachmen - Mr. Moon (George A. Freeman) - 3:06
14.The Outcasts - Loving You Sometimes (Dick Hall-Hawkins, Al Collinsworth) - 1:51

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